All-Metro Football: Teo Ong leaves his mark as defensive player of the year

Brownsville St. Joseph senior defensive back Sean Teo Ong didn’t know anything about football when he first started playing in middle school.

He joined the Bloodhounds program because he wanted to make friends, and after one week he was hooked. He worked hard to get stronger and smarter, and it all came to fruition in a 2020 season he called one of the biggest blessings of his life.

Teo Ong notched 104 tackles through nine games, including 74 solo and 10 tackles for loss. He recorded five sacks, six interceptions and caused a fumble in one of SJA’s biggest games of the year. Teo Ong led the Bloodhounds defensively to help them return to the playoffs and has been named The Brownsville Herald’s All-Metro football defensive player of the year.

“I’m incredibly honored. I did not expect this, and I’m just really glad all the hard work I put in paid off,” Teo Ong said. “I feel like for most of my football career I had a chip on my shoulder. People don’t expect an Asian to come into football and post numbers like that. Every single game, every single play, I would try to prove myself to every opponent we would take on because I wanted to be known as someone who could play the sport.”

The Bloodhounds run a defense that puts a lot of responsibilities on safeties, and Villarreal praised Teo Ong for “owning his position” and being a leader for the unit. Villarreal said Teo Ong came into his own this season by being a student of the game, taking the time to not only perfect his job but to learn everything about opposing offenses so he could control the defense.

“He was able to analyze plays and do a good job of anticipating what he was going to see, and it put him in the right place a lot,” Villarreal said. “He’s the most vocal player out there. He’s calling out the other team’s formations, he’s identifying whatever he saw on scout, calling out plays our defense should expect. He really became a coach on the field, and it was fun to watch him emerge and develop that way.”

Teo Ong had a season full of strong performances, but there’s one play that sticks out most for Villarreal and embodies the type of player he is. In SJA’s first-round playoff game, Teo Ong “overplayed” a deep pass with the game tied. Instead of giving up after his error, Teo Ong saved a touchdown by chasing down the receiver and forcing a fumble. The Bloodhounds recovered and ended up winning the game to become the only Metro-area squad to clinch a playoff victory in 2020.

“When people ask me to describe Sean Teo Ong, he’s the guy who chases a kid 40 yards in a full sprint to strip him of the football at the 5-yard-line. He made a bad play into a great play, and that’s who Sean is. He’s relentless,” Villarreal said.

Earning that win and getting the program back into the playoffs was a highlight of Teo Ong’s career and an experience he said he’ll remember for the rest of his life. He said tears were flowing when the Bloodhounds got the win because he was so proud of the strides his team made to “bring the program back to a point of competency.”

Teo Ong has family in the Philippines, and he said though they don’t understand football, they love watching highlight clips he sends. The senior certainly gave his extended family plenty to cheer about this season, and he expressed gratitude for the constant support they, his parents and Villarreal gave him.

“My parents definitely taught me a lot about perseverance. They instilled a work ethic in me that just motivates me to do my best every day no matter what I’m doing,” Teo Ong said. “Coach Tino molded me into a man that I can be proud of being. He taught us every day to never give up and try your heart out because if you do you’ll get the results you want.”